Montreal·Photos

Paralympics star Aurélie Rivard welcomed home from Rio at Montreal airport

A busload of supporters from Aurélie Rivard's South Shore hometown of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., welcomed her at Trudeau airport Tuesday morning on her return from Rio.

Group of about 30 comes out to greet Canadian swimmer, who won 3 gold medals, 1 silver in Rio

The Paralympics star from Quebec won four medals in Rio. 0:45

It's not unusual for sporting heroes returning home after capturing the public imagination with their inspiring performances to be greeted by a crowd.

But Aurélie Rivard wasn't expecting to be met by members of her swim club, who loaded onto a bus Tuesday morning to make the 55-kilometre trip from her hometown of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., to Montreal's Trudeau airport.

"I feel so loved," she said.

A crowd of supporters awaits the arrival of Aurélie Rivard, a triple-gold winner at the recently wrapped Paralympic Games in Rio. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

The 20-year-old swimmer returns from the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, having smashed two world records en route to winning four medals – three of them gold. The other was silver.

Best friends Shelby Lajeunesse and Emma-Ève Langlois are members of the same swim club as Rivard. They skipped school to welcome her home.

Langlois said she made the trip to congratulate her hero.

"I want to be that, too," she said.

Shelby Lajeunesse and Emma-Ève Langlois are big fans of Aurélie Rivard. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Overcoming insecurity

Rivard said when she started swimming, she never thought she'd be the person with four medals hanging from her neck.

She said was insecure, harbouring the belief that her peers were much better than her.

"I wasn't really good," she said.
Aurélie Rivard said she never thought she'd be the swimmer coming home with all the hardware. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Her message for others hoping to achieve what she has? Never give up.

"Always work hard for what you want. I think I'm the best example," she said.

Queen of Saint-Jean

Former Expos pitcher Claude Raymond operates Fonds Claude Raymond, which gives money to young athletes. His organization has supported Rivard since she was 8 or 9.
Claude Raymond's foundation has been supporting Aurélie Rivard for more than a decade. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

He said people from her hometown came out because they're proud of her and inspired by her.

"What she did, it's outstanding. She is the queen of Saint-Jean," Raymond said.​

And what is the queen looking forward to now that she's home?

Sleeping in her own bed and digging into a poutine, she says.

with files from Kate McKenna